Late Tuesday afternoon, the embattled online poker site Absolute Poker and its sister site under the CEREUS Network banner, UB.com, announced that discussions with the United States Department of Justice has produced some progress as to the return of potentially millions of dollars that U. S. players have in their accounts. A read of the official announcement from Absolute Poker demonstrates that this progress is, at best, minimal.
In the opening sentence of the statement, Absolute Poker says, “Absolute Poker has reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. Under the agreement, the U. S. Attorney’s Office has agreed to provide all necessary assurances that third parties may work with Absolute Poker to facilitate the return of funds to players located in the U. S. This provision is an important step to returning U. S. player funds.”
While the information regarding the ongoing discussions between Absolute and the Department of Justice is somewhat good news, the information released yesterday by Absolute does little to actually move along their processes. All the agreement states is that the federal government will allow processors to work with Absolute and UB.com to return player’s bankrolls. There is no comment in the statement as to when – or if – cash outs will take place and no comment as to international players who have had issues with cash outs.
A spokesperson with Absolute stated in the announcement, “Today’s signing of the agreement with the Department of Justice is an important step towards the safe and efficient return of funds to our U. S. players. We can now move as expeditiously as possible to establish proper mechanisms for the return of funds to our American players.”
“As previously announced, we have already taken specific actions to exit the U. S. market by closing our U. S. facing operations. Blank Rome LLP (a top notch Philadelphia law firm that specializes in international law and is representing Absolute in the federal case) will continue to engage in discussions with the SDNY in order to complete the necessary agreements for the final transfer of balances to our U. S. players.”
“This remains our highest priority,” the spokesperson concluded. “We will continue to update our players and the poker community as we move forward to resolve outstanding issues.”
In a change from the actions of the other sites, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, indicted in the “Black Friday” actions, Absolute has not asked for nor been given their domain names back. Cash outs from PokerStars have been flowing since their domain name was returned to them, while Full Tilt Poker has been less expedient in their actions since their domain was returned. The return of the domain names for the CEREUS Network sites would be critical for players to receive their money that is locked up on the two sites.
The statement concludes by saying, “Absolute Poker’s top priority has always been, and remains, the refund of account balances to its U. S. players. Unfortunately, the Company still faces several legal issues which must be navigated before funds can be paid out. The Company’s attorneys, Blank Rome LLP, continue to work diligently to resolve these issues, which is a necessary further step to facilitate the return of funds to players. Player funds, therefore, will not become immediately available for withdrawal as a result of today’s agreement with the Department of Justice.”
Once one of the top ten poker operations in the industry, the CEREUS Network has dropped significantly following the indictments of two of Absolute Poker’s owners, Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, in the April 15 Department of Justice action. According to PokerScout.com, the CEREUS Network is now the 28th ranked poker network in the industry after losing over 75% of its cash game traffic.
By EARL BURTON